This month, I return to reflecting on the academic book proposal process. In previous posts, I provided a bibliography of all the advice out there on this process, as well as how to identify a book series as a means of narrowing your target lists. Now that I have several presses committed to reading the manuscript in full in the next year, I wanted to pause and reflect on the actuality of the process, as well as what things have changed in recent years with shifts in the academic publishing industry.
¶ I’m lucky. I’ve never had too much trouble with “killing my darlings” when it comes to writing. I can’t stand my first drafts and am typically eager to get to revising stages.
¶ I’m realizing that the book proposal genre is a bit of a different beast. I’ve followed what all the bloggers and books recommend: take time and get some distance. It’s been more than a year and a half since my dissertation defense and revisiting that object for a serious strip-down and re-vision. I’ve written so many query letters, fellowship and grant applications, and other documents where the narrative about this project is the cornerstone. It is language I have downright slaved-over and, what’s more, I still like it. I have a new title I like better, and I know exactly the pieces that need to be tossed, a sense of the remodeling that needs to happen—and I am excited about all of these. But it doesn’t mean I dislike what the project once was.